A pensioner finding it impossible to cope with his wife's dementia beat her to death with a scaffolding pole in what a judge called an 'exceptional' and 'heart-rending' case.

On July 7 last year, in the Stockport home they had shared for 58 years, pensioner Lawrence Franks beat his dementia-stricken wife Patricia.

Then, believing the attack had not proved fatal, the 84-year-old then smothered her with a pillow.

It was, Manchester Crown Court heard, the act of a man who ‘genuinely believed’ he was performing an ‘act of mercy’, reports the Manchester Evening News .

When Mrs Franks had been diagnosed with dementia about a decade earlier her 'utterly devoted' husband promised she would never go in a care home.

But as her condition deteriorated, Mr Franks found it almost impossible to cope.

Mrs Franks was practically immobile, incontinent and tragically no longer recognised her beloved husband of 62 years.

And on July 7, 2018, Mr Franks reached breaking point.

In heart-breaking scenes in the latest episode of the BBC One documentary Ambulance viewers witnessed the moment Mr Franks called 999 to report his wife's death.

The former bus driver can be heard explaining to call handler Frank that he was no longer able to cope with the demands of caring for Patricia.

"I've killed my wife," he is heard to say.

"She can't walk. Incontitent. And I can't cope. So I've killed her."

When asked about weapons, the man said: "Only a lump of iron."

As Frank assures the man that help is on the way, the caller adds: "There's a little girl's party next door, don't use sirens and spoil it.

"She'd dead, that's all there is."

In November last year Mr Franks pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

The court heard at the time of his wife's death Mr Franks was suffering from an ‘adjustment disorder’ brought on by the stress of caring for her. It meant, the court heard, his ‘judgement to make rational decisions was substantially impaired’.

Handing down a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, Judge David Stockdale told him: “Your devotion to her was total and unconditional.

“She was particularly anxious not to be placed in a care home and said so repeatedly, particularly as her health deteriorated.

“But the burden of looking after her became impossible for you.

“You showed your wife nothing but love and affection and for the last 10 years tended to her every need. Your devotion was quite exceptional.

“There is no sentence I can pass that will turn back the clock or recompense for the loss of Patricia Franks’ life.

“In my judgement this is an exceptional case.”

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